One of the things that is expected more of writers in this new publishing age is self-promotion. Get out there, build a fanbase, gain a following…
Don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying marketing and promotion are a bad thing. Not at all.
I’m saying they are a hard thing. For me. (I know plenty of authors who are naturally very sociable. I am not one of those.)
Sometimes people tell me that I can come off as unapproachable. Especially in a group or a crowd. I think this is down to two things.
One, I suspect I may have a bit of RBF (that’s resting bitch face, in case you’re not up on your latest random internet abbreviations). When I’m thinking too hard, or concentrating on something, my brows tend to furrow (I have very thick, dark eyebrows… like, Riverdale’s Veronica Lodge and I could share pointers) and I might possibly purse my mouth.
I don’t intend to look like I am contemplating where to bury the body, but I can see how people might think that.
The second reason is sort of tied to the first. Or, it’s the reason for the first. Or something.
Honestly, I have a bit of social anxiety. Nothing crippling, but it’s difficult for me to get comfortable in a crowd or large group. (Smaller groups, especially if there are numerous people I know well, are much easier for me to navigate socially.)
Because it’s outside my comfort zone, I’m often overthinking it. Trying to figure out what I should be doing, and how I should be acting. Hence, the squiggly eyebrows and tight lips. If you ever see me in public and I look pissed, I’m really not. I’m just awkward.
The reason I’ve been thinking about this recently is because earlier this week I registered for Rainbowcon, which is an “event centered around QUILTBAG (Queer/Questioning, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Trans*, Bisexual, Asexual, and Gay/Genderqueer) multimedia”.
It’s an amazing opportunity to network with other QUILTBAG authors, and readers. I am extremely excited to be attending a con as a bona fide published author.
Also? Not gonna lie. A little terrified.
In a good way though, honest! It will be something new. A challenge. If you’re a reader or author who is going to be in Tampa in July and you happen to see me, please don’t hesitate to come up and say hi. Even if my RBF is fierce. I’ll most likely be feeling very lame and talking to someone will help.
Preparations for attending the con have already begun. I’ve designed some business cards to bring along.
(PS: I am aware my number is on there. If you feel the urge to call, don’t be surprised when I don’t answer. I never answer. Talking on the phone is yet another thing I am awkwardly terrible at. I call people back. Usually. But I have to prepare first.)
The last time I had business cards was when I was writing for Dread Central. They were ordered for me, since everyone basically had the same cards except for their info (name/title/contact). Designing these, figuring out what I liked and what worked, took a little while. Luckily, I have a friend who is savvy in graphic design and she gave me a bit of feedback and advice. (Thanks, B!)
I’ll be bringing a couple of promotional items as well, though I haven’t settled on what yet. But since I don’t have any physical copies of A Single Heartbeat to sell, I want to bring a few fun things that will hopefully encourage readers to seek out a copy of the book once they leave.
All part of building that fanbase.
That’s why I write blogs like this, too. Promo on the computer is much easier for me. I feel comfortable and relaxed in my own home, but I can still reach out to readers. I like this combination. I feel like I can be the real me, without having to worry if I look like the poor fat girl from your class that no one likes but your mom made you invite to your birthday party anyway.
Intellectually, I know that’s a silly thought to have. Once people get to know me, they generally like me just fine. I’m very loyal, sometimes funny, and I’m into a lot of geeky, pop culture things.
I like people. I do. It just takes me a little bit to warm up.
(The amount of time is variable. It’s considerably shorter if I have at least a one person buffer… someone with me who I know and am comfortable with, who is in turn comfortable in the public situation and can drag me out of my protective shell.)
But, being behind a screen and typing on a keyboard works as that buffer, reducing the length of my awkwardness to practically nil.
For example, when I first started writing this blog, it made me really nervous. (Oh god, what am I going to say? Is anyone going to read it? What if I sound stupid?) But now I feel much more in my comfort zone and I barely worry at all.
Even if no one’s reading this right now, my relaxed mind says, people might discover your books and come back to it. Someone will eventually want to read about your spazzy public self.
Still, I haven’t been at this author thing very long, so even online promo is a bit of minefield for me. Only, no one can see my RBF.
Thankfully, there are a lot of really amazing, helpful people out there willing to work with me and my perpetually awkward personality.
Next Sunday (March 19th), I will be blogging over at Diverse Reader. There will most likely be an excerpt of A Single Heartbeat involved. Also, I’ll be giving away 3 copies of the novella, so if you’re into paranormal romance, gay erotica, or vampires (or all of the above), make sure you check it out!
Then, on Monday (March 20th) I’ll be answering 5 questions over at Jessie G Books. That one will be cross-posted over on Queeromance Ink as well, I believe. There may also be video involved. Which should be interesting, because of the aforementioned spaz.
At the end of the month (Friday, March 31st), I’ll be over on fellow M/M romance author Nic Starr’s blog for Friend Friday, talking about what inspires me.
For someone who feels a bit like throwing up every time the prospect of talking to someone I don’t know arises, I think I’m off to a pretty decent start at this whole self-promotion thing. I feel good about it. Not a single furrowed brow or pursed lip yet.
Hopefully, that will translate to more readers for A Single Heartbeat, and the sequel (currently in edits), A Kiss of Brimstone*. Because that’s what it’s ultimately about. I’m a socially awkward author with Resting Bitch Face, but I want to share my stories with you.
If you give me a chance, I promise I grow on you. Like a beard.
(How’s that for a pitch? Elegant, I know. I didn’t say I quite had the hang of this whole thing yet, did I?)
Are you an author or some other creative type? If you’ve got any tips or tricks–for self-promotion either online or off–leave a comment below! I’d love to hear them.
*This is a working title and therefore subject to change.